Local officials blasted Jersey Central Power & Light at a town hall meeting earlier this week for their response, or lack of response, to re-establishing power after Superstorm Sandy earlier this year.
While there are only about 3,000 JCP&L customers in Wayne, most of those people were without power for more than a week during in the days following what some called was the worst storm in the history of the state. Most of Wayne is serviced by Public Service Electric & Gas.
Some JCP&L customers were without power, and heat, for 12 or 13 days.
Officials want a strong response from the Board of Public Utilities and fines and penalties levied against the company.
“In this day and age it is incomprehensible how JCP&L treated its customers after Superstorm Sandy,” said Mayor Chris Vergano. “They must be held to a high standard and I expect the Board of Public Utilities to hold them accountable. Living 12 days without power should not be tolerated.”
Vegano has been particularly vocal in his criticism of JCP&L. He went down to the company’s headquarters following Sandy and demanded action to help Wayne residents.
A petition asking the BPU to rescind JCP&L’s franchise and ability to sell power to Wayne residents was created and posted online following Sandy. Nearly 1,800 supporters have signed it as of 6 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The problems that officials have had with JCP&L are nothing new.
“Our problems with JCP&L didn’t start with their poor response to Superstorm Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene. They date back many years,” said state Assemblyman Scott Rumana, who represents the 40th Legislative District. “In 1999, following Hurricane Floyd, I distinctly recall then-Mayor David Waks driving out to JCP&L headquarters with a police officer. They refused to leave until JCP&L dispatched some trucks to Wayne to begin restoring our residents’ power." said.
State Senator Kevin O’Toole, who also represents the 40th District, is co-sponsoring the New Jersey Residents Power Protection Act.
The legislation would hold utility companies accountable for their response times during emergencies. It would also require gas stations and other facilities to have generators on hand to ensure residents have access to power and gasoline during emergencies situations.
Local officials want to talk to residents directly regarding their recent experiences with JCP&L. Vergano is hosting a meeting later this month to discuss with residents their negative experiences with the company.